For Love of the Uplands


Does upland wildlife habitat make your “love list?”

Story by Jordan L.K. MartincichPhoto by Ben Brettingen

A few years ago at National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic, Steven Rinella asked everyone attending the national banquet a provocative question:

Do you love the uplands, upland wildlife, and the upland hunting tradition?

This question seemed straightforward except for one thing: Steven placed a major caveat on it. He defined love as your personal willingness to risk or give your life for something. 

On many occasions I have said that I love the uplands. But until that evening, I never considered if I am willing to die for them. As I sat in the room, with over 1,200 other passionate supporters of the PF habitat mission, my mind began thinking about the things I was willing to die for… my faith, my family, my country … the uplands?

At first, I was unsure if the uplands should be on my “love list.” But then it struck me. The uplands are not only an inherent part of my life, but they are integral to the other items on my list.

When I see the rays of the newborn sun glistening across a blanket of frost on a field of prairie grass, I feel close to God.

When I watch my son flush a covey of birds, or sit in a café with friends telling stories about the good ol’ days, I am building unbreakable lifelong bonds.

When I am immersed in a hike through a sprawling grassland, following a big-running bird dog in pursuit of flushing feathers, I can’t think of anything more uniquely American. The uplands are inseparable from the other things I love.      

Over the last year, you have been witnessing the unprecedented conservation movement that Call of the Uplands® is inspiring. The campaign has activated hundreds of thousands of passionate Pheasants Forever constituents, across North America, around the idea that the uplands are not only a resource worth protecting but they are an irreplaceable part of our lifestyle.

Call of the Uplands is our rally cry for the uplands. The campaign’s strategic focus on habitat conservation, education & outreach, and advocacy, is generating significant outcomes for the Pheasants Forever mission. But it is more than that. Call of the Uplands is a labor of love. 

The campaign is opening quality habitat to public hunting through programs like Build a Wildlife Area®

The campaign is allowing PF to recruit conservationists of all ages through our education & outreach initiatives. 

And the campaign is serving as a platform for us to move the North American Grasslands Conservation Act, and its significant conservation funding stream, one step closer to reality.

None of this would be possible without the ardent support of our constituents and conservation partners who recently helped PF eclipse 75 percent of its $500 million fundraising goal. 

Our collective task for 2022 is to meet the challenges facing wildlife habitat head-on by securing an additional $125 million for the uplands. These funds will guarantee the success of the Call of the Uplands campaign while safeguarding a wildlife habitat conservation legacy for future generations.

The uplands are a better place thanks to the Call of the Uplands campaign. But we must be steadfast in our commitment to conserving these unique, biologically diverse ecosystems. 

Our work is never complete. North America’s native grasslands are some of the most threatened landscapes in the world. Across North America, wildlife habitat is rapidly disappearing. Only 5 percent of the original prairie remains. In the last 10 years alone, the Great Plains have lost more than 53 million acres of grasslands to development — an area the size of Kansas. The things we hold dear — like wildlife, water, pollinators, soil quality, and even family traditions — are being devastated.

Call of the Uplands is your chance to help Pheasants Forever make wildlife habitat conservation a national priority. We have the mission, the expertise, the science-based strategic vision and the passion to save the uplands before it is too late. We will overcome these and other challenges facing wildlife habitat. But we need your help.

Here is something to contemplate. Are the uplands on your “love list?” How are you going to make Call of the Uplands and the Pheasants Forever mission a more significant priority in your life?

John Lennon and Paul McCartney probably weren’t thinking about the uplands when they penned, “All you need is love.” But the song’s lyrics, “There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done,” apply to our collective efforts. We can do anything we seek to accomplish especially when it involves Love, Love, Love. 

In case you are wondering, the uplands are on my “love list.”
For more information on Call of the Uplands, please visit

Jordan L.K. Martincich is a family man, upland hunter, bird dog guy, and director of development for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever.

This story originally appeared in the 2022 Summer Issue of the Pheasants Forever Journal. If you enjoyed it and would like to be the first to read more great upland content like this, become a Pheasants Forever member today!